We have been watching with interest over the past few weeks as the Facebook page to save Mt Keira Lookout has grown and it is particularly pleasing to see the number of contributors who have indicated a willingness to help at the Mt Keira Summit Park.
We are the first to admit that we could use a helping hand.
The Mt Keira Summit Park is managed as a natural area annexe of the Wollongong Botanic Garden. We are responsible for the daily maintenance including mowing, cleaning the car parks, toilets and bbqs, safety checks and garden maintenance.
We also have an existing licence with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to clear the vegetation along the Northern Lookout to a depth of 10 metres from the lookout fence.
We know that we need to do more and are planning to do so.
In January 2013 we commenced a traineeship program where Council has engaged three trainees from a refugee background to work under the supervision of one of our Horticulturists to maintain the Botanic Garden annexes (we also manage Puckey's Estate at North Wollongong, and the Korrongulla Wetland at Primbee).
This team will work primarily at Mt Keira in 2013 to gradually remove and replace the garden beds surrounding the lookout.
The aim is to present the site as a botanic collection recognising some of the spectacular flowering plants endemic to our escarpment including the waratah and flannel flower.
We will be communicating with NPWS on how we can manage the trees growing out the northern lookout view line beyond the current 10 metre zone we are currently licensed to manage.
And we intend on inviting the community to support us going forward.
For a long time now the team at the Botanic Garden has received fantastic support from a number of volunteer groups - bushcare groups have been restoring Puckeys, The Friends of the Botanic Garden are an active presence in the Botanic Garden, and Rotary has been working at Mt Keira.
Simply put - we need the support of volunteers if we are to have any chance of developing the site into a worthy botanic collection, whilst staying on top of the day to day maintenance tasks.
Paul Tracey is curator of Wollongong Botanic Garden.
A community rally will be held at the lookout on Saturday from 2pm (enter from Mt Ousley Rd). Organisers are hoping for a large turnout of people keen to volunteer to help restore the lookout.